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HUD OKs facility for addicted single moms

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given Fargo's Housing Authority the preliminary go-ahead to build a facility for homeless, chemically dependent single mothers and their children.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given Fargo's Housing Authority the preliminary go-ahead to build a facility for homeless, chemically dependent single mothers and their children.

The $500,000 HUD grant was initially earmarked for a

"wet house" for homeless, chronic alcoholics. That project was attempted twice in recent months and killed both times due in large part to public opposition.

The Housing Authority shifted the focus for the grant money in October but had to earn HUD approval before moving forward.

Official, written approval will come from HUD in January, said Lynn Fundingsland, executive director of the Fargo Housing Authority.

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The plan is to build a 12-unit apartment complex where homeless single mothers with substance abuse problems can live with their children and receive treatment.

It will be located on the campus of Share House, a non-profit substance abuse and counseling center at 4227 9th Ave. SW in Fargo.

Share House has agreed to turn over a portion of their land for the project in exchange for the Housing Authority transferring its grant to them.

The Fargo Planning Commission and City Commission will not need to approve the new project since the land is already zoned for such use.

The other "wet house" plans required a conditional use permit, which is why they needed city approval, said Jessica Thomasson, a Fargo senior planner.

The only time this would come up at the city level again would be if the facility applied for HOME or Community Development Block Grant money, Thomasson said.

The area around Share House is made up mostly of multi-family apartment buildings. The Housing Authority will meet with residents of the area, but Fundingsland said he doesn't expect any opposition since it's just an addition to an existing facility.

Project construction will be more expensive than the

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$1 million "wet house" cost projections, so additional funds beyond what the Housing Authority already has secured will be needed, he said.

"There's much more to this," Fundingsland said. "Here, you're going to have 12 kitchens, 12 bathrooms. It's not just a place to sleep."

Additional security will also be needed to protect women residents and their children, he said.

"There is a great need for this," said Michael Leier, a Fargo Housing Authority board member. "It may be only 12 units, but it will impact a lot of people. The hope is that this will interrupt the cycle that disrupts so many families."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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